February is short in days, but bursting at the seams with at least ten – twelve holidays and observances. Black History Month is also recognized in February and is universally a source of frustration for educators and diversity and inclusion practitioners.
I am also frustrated by this one month designation. Frustrated because at some point, we need to rethink how we acknowledge and designate months of observances to America’s growing hyphenated Americans. Many will rightfully argue that celebrating the contributions and achievements of America’s many subgroups will help level the playing field for those that have historically been underresourced, underrepresented and underappreciated.
I’m not sure about the long-term impact and relevancy of recycling power point presentations in February about African-American inventors or how we help empower women to shatter the glass ceiling by designating the month of March as Women’s History Month. What I am sure of is that we, as a society, will need to embrace the innumerable cultural voices that are the fiber of America.
I have equally mixed feelings about the America Rows Diversity Invitational. In 2010, I strongly believed that we needed to showcase our vastly diverse rowing membership. The vision at the time was to create a rowing venue that ethnically and racially reflected the diversity of America. Thus the Diversity Invitational was born. Until we do a much better job at recruiting diverse rowers, leadership, board members, coaches, referees and race officials, and until local, regional and national regattas also reflect our diversity, the event is still relevant.
I look forward to the day in America when we can celebrate our differences, achievements and contributions every day, and at the same time allow our diverse history to be measured by its impact on society and our rowing community – not by the color of the skin, but by the color of the blades.